Taking Aim At Bad Czech Banks

The state privatizes IPB, putting others on notice

It wasn't the usual post-communist privatization fire sale. It was more like a call to arms. When Czech Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky sold the state's 36.7% stake in Investicni a Postovni Banka (IPB) to Nomura Europe PLC for $89.2 million on Mar. 9, it amounted to war on the Republic's failing banking sector. The privatization of the state's third-largest bank--with $7.1 billion in assets--means Czechs may finally be serious about fixing the nation's finances. "We must move forward," says Tosovsky, who heads the Republic's caretaker government until elections in June.

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